Angels’ Santana no-hits the Indians

It took a little more than six years, but Angels pitcher Ervin Santana finally got his revenge on the Indians.

And what revenge it was, as Santana threw the first no-hitter in Progressive Field history (and the first against the Indians in 18 years) to elevate the Angels to a 3-1 victory Wednesday.

That was a lot different than Santana’s major league debut in Cleveland back on May 17, 2005. In that game, he gave up the cycle to the first four batters. He lost then and entered the afternoon with an 0-6 lifetime record, and 4.98 ERA, against the Indians.

So call him an unlikely star, a guy who’s usually not very good against the Indians even when the Indians have been really bad.

Wednesday, that all changed.

“Good fastball, good slider …” said Indians manager Manny Acta, as he searched for the right words to try to describe what just happened. “He just attacked the zone.”

Santana (6-8) allowed just two base runners. The first came on a leadoff error, the next on a walk in the eighth inning. The error allowed Ezequiel Carrera to reach base and eventually score on a wild pitch, accounting for the Indians’ lone run.

Still, Santana said he wasn’t really confident the no-hitter might happen until the eighth inning.

“Lots of guys get to five, six innings,” he said, “but that’s when things get a little complicated.”

A no-hitter is a rare occurrence and rarer still for the Angels. Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan once threw four no-hitters in a three-season span, but Santana’s effort was just the Angels’ second complete-game number in the 36 years since.

Santana threw 105 pitches and struck out 10, as the Angels (57-48) moved within 2.5 games of Texas in the AL West.

Meanwhile, the only thing worse than the Indians’ offense may have been their defense — and that says a lot considering they couldn’t so much as muster up a single.

But it’s true, with the Indians committing a whopping five errors, along with a passed ball from catcher Carlos Santana that resulted in a gift run in the sixth.

Worse, this is no time for the Indians (52-50) to be making mistakes. They have lost six of seven and fell 2 1/2 back of the Tigers (pending Wednesday’s result) in the AL Central.

The Indians say they know they must get better defensively, and along with trying to find some lineup help at the trade deadline, they might consider replacing Carlos Santana with Lou Marson — the backup catcher and superior defensive player.

As Acta indicated, the pitching has been solid-to-strong and pretty much the only reason the Indians remain able to compete. That was again the case Wednesday, with losing starter David Huff (1-1) striking out four and giving up two runs.

“It wasn’t about David Huff,” Acta said. “It was that we couldn’t get to Ervin Santana.”

No Indians manager has ever said that about Ervin Santana before, and that alone shows you the extent of his accomplishment.

The fact he did it without giving up a hit has to make it that much better.

“I never win against this team,” he said.

Santana quickly finished things in the ninth, first striking out Travis Buck and then getting Carrera to ground out. The game ended when Michael Brantley followed with a pop out to center fielder Peter Bourjos.

Bourjos played a direct role in two of the Angels’ runs. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Trout in the fifth, then singled to drive in Howard Kendrick in the ninth.

The Angels next play Thursday in Detroit; the Indians begin a three-game series against Kansas City at home Friday.